Thousands of mourners lay to rest Mama Winnie Mandela

Senior military officials stand by after carrying the coffin of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela into Orlando Stadium in Soweto for a funeral ceremony on April 14, 2018. [Wikus De Wet, AFP]
National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga has joined thousands of south Africans and mourners from across the world in saying goodbye to anti-apartheid heroine Winnie Madikizela Mandela.

The mourners who wore black, green and gold followed the casket that is draped in the South African flag into the stadium with scores raising their fists, a gesture synonymous with Winnie’s spirited political life.

Dignitaries at the ceremony include civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson as well as Presidents of the Republic of Congo and Namibia.

Former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, Graça Machel, wife of the late president Nelson Mandela are also among those attending the funeral.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the eulogy. Winnie’s daughters, Zenani Mandela and Zindzi Mandela, and grandson, Zondwa Mandela, are also expected to give an address.

Winnie Mandela died on April 2 in a Johannesburg hospital after a long illness at the age of 81.

She has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela's dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years.

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Raila Odinga eulogised her as a courageous and spirited fighter.

“Winnie led a bitter and dedicated struggle against the brutal Apartheid regime in South Africa, holding fort when her then husband Nelson Mandela was in detention,” he said in a statement after her death.

Mandela will be buried later on Saturday at the Fourways Memorial Park in a private ceremony.

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